Nate Robertson

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Republican candidate, Florida House District 40

Public Service

Never held elective office.

Occupation

Senior Strategic Account Lead, RxCrossroads

Education

Union University, B.A., Biblical Studies, 2004

Religion

Christian

A son of Buffalo, N.Y. who settled in Ocoee with his wife and two sons in 2016, Nate Robertson works as an accounts manager for the pharmaceuticals distribution branch of Texas-based McKesson Corp. He earned a bachelors degree in Biblical Studies from Union University in Tennessee and serves as vice president of Sidewalk Advocates for Life, which promotes gatherings outside abortion clinics across the country. He is also an ordained minister.


Robertson has styled himself as a “Frederick Douglass Republican”* with a platform built on personal freedoms — particularly school choice and an end to medical mandates. He was active in the 2021 anti-mask movement and even joined a lawsuit to end the mask mandate in Orange County Public Schools.


Fealty to former President Donald Trump is a litmus test for many Republicans, but Robertson has stayed largely mum about the former president, choosing to highlight local issues. “This campaign is so focused on this community. District 40 deserves really strong representation with action. And that's been what I've really tried to focus on with this campaign,” Robertson told VoxPopuli.


However, 70 percent of Republicans still falsely believe the 2020 election was stolen. A recent New York Times analysis found that more than 370 Republican candidates running for office across the country have questioned or denied the results of the 2020 election.


Robertson told VoxPopuli he “[didn’t] have enough evidence to give an answer one way or another if the 2020 election was stolen. I think there is a lot of evidence that there’s been irregularity across the country and even in our own state.”** He did readily acknowledge Joe Biden as the legitimate president.


Robertson did not characterize the Jan. 6 Capitol  insurrection as a planned attack carried out by armed Trump supporters to prevent the peaceful transfer of power and maintain Trump as president.


“You know, I … I have not dug into a lot of the evidence and the nitty gritty of January 6th, but it was a … a very difficult day, and it created a lot of emotion on every side of the issue for everybody. I don't know, honestly, that any of us know exactly what was happening and how certain elements of that day unfolded. Again, I think that I would say that I just really am in this race because I'm concerned about this community and I want to focus on the issues that this community needs and how do we continue to move Florida forward? So, I don't know that I really have much to say about that right now.”


Here are the issues that Robertson did talk about. 


AFFORDABLE HOUSING

Robertson told VoxPopuli he wanted to explore rental and mortgage assistance, incentivize developers to build affordable housing and consider rezoning underperforming commercial spaces.


“Something like the West Oaks Mall. That mall has dwindled down. Is there an opportunity to look at maybe transforming some of these commercial spaces that are not being as used anymore as they used to be into an area that could be rezoned and then affordable housing could be put in?”


He’d also like to see government funding for homeowners who want to buy their second homes.


“Let's say a family was able to get some assistance in buying their first home, and they are ready to buy another home. There's really no assistance in helping them if they are needing down payment assistance to move into the next home. If there was a way to do that from a state funding perspective, that could also help to open up the housing that family would be leaving.”


PROPERTY INSURANCE

“We need to continue to do work like the legislature has done in the past session of limiting some of the fees that insurance companies are able to charge, especially when it comes to litigation. Some of the attorney's fees have been capped now when there is litigation, and I think that more work like that needs to be done.”


CRIMINAL JUSTICE

Criminal justice reform is a major plank in Robertson’s platform. He wants a state-level review of sentencing guidelines to determine which ones require readjustment. He wants to decrease the time period between arrest and trial. And he wants to examine the “minimum evidence required” for a grand jury indictment.


“I've heard from some residents who personally know of family or friends, especially, unfortunately, Black males who were arrested and kept in jail for a really long period of time before there was a resolution to the case. That does not show me that we have equal justice under the law. So I'm really concerned about how do we make it more equal for everybody.”


VoxPopuli asked about decriminalizing pot. Currently possession of 20 grams or less is a misdemeanor punishable by a year in prison and up to $1,000 fine — though in Orlando, where pot is decriminalized, officers have the option to issue citations. Black people are nearly four times more likely to be arrested for possession, than whites, despite similar usage rates. Robertson said he was not “necessarily against” decriminalizing recreational marijuana. “I just go back to these inconsistencies. I think that we need to have a consistent standard and then we need to be enforcing that standard.”


Robertson was less interested in eliminating cash bail, which disproportionately keeps low-wage and people of color who can’t afford to post bail after an arrest, jailed for an average of 23 days while their case moves through the system. The American Civil Liberties Union calls pretrial incarceration because of unaffordable bail the “single biggest driver of convictions” and the reason for skyrocketing jail and prison populations.


“What I have seen about the elimination of cash bail does not make me feel very comfortable with it,” he said.


However, Robertson did say he would consider eliminating driver’s license suspensions as a penalty for nonpayment of court debt, another issue that disproportionately impacts poorer communities and communities of color. The Fines and Fees Justice Center has attempted, unsuccessfully, to pass legislation that stops this practice for the last three legislative sessions and it is likely to come up again.


“It seems to me that if you are trying to encourage someone to be able to hold down a job and to make the money that they need to make to pay off a court debt, that you wouldn't want to suspend their driver's license,” he said.


HEALTH INSURANCE

Robertson said the high cost of insurance, which has left a large number of Floridians uninsured, is a concern. He told VoxPopuli he believes “there's more that we can do in public-private partnerships to make insurance more affordable.” One idea he has is to create funding or scholarship programs like those for education to assist with medical needs. He does not favor a blanket Medicaid expansion without “requirements or something that would help people to transition from Medicaid to having private insurance.”


GENDER-AFFIRMING CARE

As of August, Medicaid no longer covers gender-affirming treatment like puberty blockers, hormone replacement treatment and breast-removal a.k.a "top surgery." The state’s medical boards are considering new statewide rules that would prevent trans kids under 18 from receiving treatment. In a campaign video, Robertson stated — in relation to masks and vaccines — that parents should be the sole decision maker in a child’s medical decisions. VoxPopuli asked Robertson if he stood by that statement when it came to parents seeking gender-affirming care for transgender youth?


“I believe that the government's role in dictating the care of children should be as limited as possible,” he said. “I don't know that I can tell you today exactly, like on a broad idea of a bill, how I would vote. But I don't want the government making decisions for parents. I don't."


ABORTION

Robertson says quite a bit about freedom in his campaign videos:

I believe the freedom to choose is vital to a free society.

I am against our government forcing us into something that is against our free will.

The government should not have the ability to intrude into your personal privacy.


VoxPopuli asked him if those statements extended to women and the right to choose whether or not to give birth.


“I believe we need to ask the question of when should human rights protection be extended to the unborn?” said Robertson, not answering the question. The pro-life candidate said it concerned him that some believe his "two-year old should not have had any human rights while in the womb.”


“We should make sure that there is a full understanding of freedom for all Floridians, all humans, and that we should make sure that we are protecting the human rights of everyone,” he said.


Robertson said he would allow for exceptions such as an abortion to save a mother’s life.


VoxPopuli asked specifically about ectopic pregnancy, when the fertilized egg implants in a fallopian tube instead of the uterus. It is a life-threatening situation, but total abortion bans, in states, like Texas, have left doctors hesitant to treat out of fear of violating the law.


“The tube has to be removed to save the life of the mother,” Robertson said. “That's never been considered an abortion. And it should never be part of this conversation about abortion legislation because that is different.”


Even with a total abortion ban, it is possible that still more restrictions may follow. The Thomas More Society and the National Association of Christian Lawmakers are drafting model legislation for Republican lawmakers to adopt that would restrict travel to states where abortion is legal. The National Right to Life Coalition attempted to get a bill passed in the South Carolina Senate that would criminalize dispensing information about abortion to pregnant people via phone, email, websites. The bill failed, but the organization is looking for other takers.


VoxPopuli asked Robertson how he would vote, if elected, on abortion restrictions beyond total bans, such as out-of-state travel.


“I don't think that we can ever restrict people from leaving one state to go do something that is legal in another state. I would definitely be opposed to this idea,” he said.


On obtaining abortion pills from overseas pharmacies, Robertson said: “Is our state going to start opening every package mailed in and out of the state? I don’t know how that would even be enforced, if regulation was put in place that said abortion pills were not able to be used in our state. The questions I’m asking myself is how would it be enforced, and none of the answers are very palatable, I have to say.”



*Black scholars like Harvard’s Henry Louis Gates, Jr. have pointed out the misconceptions about Frederick Douglass as a standard bearer for the GOP, starting with his miscasting as an American patriot. As Gates noted in the Washington Post in 2017, after escaping slavery, Douglass preferred to live abroad, free of the racism he experienced in the U.S. When he did return to fight against slavery, Douglass announced, “I have no love of America as such. I have no patriotism. I have no country.”


**The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency issued a statement on Nov. 12, 2020, that the 2020 election was “the most secure in American history.” The Department of Homeland Security’s attested to the election’s security. The Jan. 6 Committee presented video testimony from former U.S. Attorney General Wiliam Barr who testified that he told former President Trump that his election fraud claims were “bullshit.”

— Norine Dworkin